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PD Dr. rer. nat. habil. Frank Eisenhauer

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Max-Planck-Institue for Extraterrestrial Physics (MPE)
Job Title
PD at the Physics Department

Courses and Dates

Title and Module Assignment
Introduction to astrophysics
course documents
Assigned to modules:
VO 2 Eisenhauer, F. Tue, 14:00–16:00, PH II 127

Offered Bachelor’s or Master’s Theses Topics

Interferometric imaging with GRAVITY

GRAVITY [1] is a novel instrument which combines the light of four telescope at the ESO VLTI observatory. Employing the techniques of fringe tracking and phase referencing, it allows to measure complex visibilities at IR wavelengths and for imaging at unprecedented angular resolution in this part of the electromagnetic spectrum. Our group's particular interest is the use of GRAVITY for high-precision studies of the galactic center, where it has enabled several breakthrough discoveries [2]. To cope with the data complexity, we are developing a novel imaging code, based on the framework of Information Field Theory [3], which is written in python and based on the NIFTy [4] package. The goal of this master project is to investigate instrumental systematics, their impact on image reconstruction and to implement a model or correction. Eventually, a better description of the instrument will push the sensitivity towards fainter objects and allow to study Sagittarius A*, the radio source associated with the massive black hole in the center of the Milky Way, in greater detail.

Contact: Dr. Julia Stadler <>

[1] GRAVITY collaboration, "First light for GRAVITY: Phase referencing optical interferometry for the Very Large Telescope Interferometer", Astronomy & Astrophysics, Volume 602, id.A94, 23 pp.

[2] GRAVITY collaboration, "GRAVITY and the Galactic Center", ESO Messenger Vol. 178, 2019

[3] T. Enßlin, "Information Theory: Information Theory for Fields", Annalen der Physik, vol. 531, issue 3, p. 1970017

[4] P. Arras et al., " NIFTy5: Numerical Information Field Theory v5", Astrophysics Source Code Library, record ascl:1903.008

suitable as
  • Master’s Thesis Nuclear, Particle, and Astrophysics
  • Master’s Thesis Applied and Engineering Physics
Supervisor: Frank Eisenhauer
Studying the chemical signature of protostellar binary interactions through simulations

More than half of the stars forms in multiple systems. The dynamical interactions between the multiple stars can have a profound influence on the formation and evolution of stars and planets. This, however, is not well understood, especially at the early stages of star formation, due to the difficulty of observing young stars obscured by its surrounding natal cloud. Recent high-resolution ALMA (the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array) observations have spatially resolved the emission from complex organic molecules around a very young protostellar binary system [1], also constraining the stellar masses and orbital parameters. The emission from these molecules coincides with features seen in the dust around the binary accretion disks, possibly corresponding to spirals or tightly wound structures. These features are difficult to explain if the emission arises solely due to heating from the forming protostars, the most common scenario used to explain the appearance of warm complex organic molecule emission around protostars. We propose to investigate the role of shocks created by the binary interactions in the production and distribution of molecular tracers at scales from a few up to 100 astronomical units. Gravitational forces from the binary stars can create shocks in the disk surrounding them. Detailed numerical simulations will be needed to investigate the temperature and density structure created by the interaction. This study will shed light on how the binary interactions can influence the chemical inventory in multiple systems at planet formation scales. During this master project, the student will carry out 3D hydrodynamical simulations with the orbital and gas properties observed in the protostellar binary [2]. Detailed thermo-dynamics will be built to investigate the origin of the high temperature and density tracers seen in the gas phase towards this embedded binary system. The student will analyze the spirals or other types of shocks features formed in the simulations, and how it depends on the numerical and physical parameters.

Prerequisites: Basic knowledge in programming (C/C++ and Python will be used).

Contact: Dr. Munan Gong <>, Dr. Maria Jose Maureira <>, Prof. Dr. Paola Caselli <>

[1] Maureira et el. 2020, "Orbital and Mass Constraints of the Young Binary System IRAS 16293-2422 A". The Astrophysical Journal 897.

[2] Moody et al. 2019, "Hydrodynamic Torques in Circumbinary Accretion Disks", The Astrophysical Journal 875.

suitable as
  • Master’s Thesis Nuclear, Particle, and Astrophysics
Supervisor: Frank Eisenhauer
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